Monday, August 27, 2012

REVIEW: The Stone Girl by Alyssa B Sheinmel

Title: The Stone Girl by Alyssa B Sheinmel
Pages: 224
Publisher: Random House Children's Books US
Publication Date: 28th August, 2012
Format: eGalley
Source: Publisher (for review, via NetGalley)

She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.

 --Goodreads summary

I just don't understand why it's so hard for me to read the synopsis of a book before I started reading it! I totally forgot that this one was what you'd call an Issue Book (not that that's a bad thing necessarily). I have mixed thoughts on this one, leaning towards the positive side.

Sethie's feelings toward her body were really stunning. There were several points during the novel where I had to stop reading and just think. Her friendship with Jane was stunning too, but in a different way. It's flawed and real, as was the stuff with Shaw (ugh Shaw) and as brutal as it was, I liked the honesty that was weaved into that aspect of the story.

I think a lot of people will hate this book. They'll hate Sethie. And I can honestly say that at times, I hated Sethie. But I think being a teenage girl, and thinking about society today and the need, the want to weigh next to nothing made me want to understand her personality. More than once I wanted to shake her for being so naive and not realizing that her 'boyfriend' was just using her. It made me really sad to think how out-of-control the situation was and how explicitly realistic Sethie's character was.

It's difficult to write this review because similar to books like The Hunger Games, I can't exactly say that I *enjoyed* the story. I've read few novels about eating disorders, Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls being one of them, and no matter how good it's written, they're always painfully genuine. Whilst reading THE STONE GIRL, I couldn't help but think how rational Sethie's feeling regarding her body were. I'm not saying that what she was doing was healthy or good or bad or whatever but it made sense. You know that feeling when you feel so strongly about something, and are convinced it's a big deal? Yeah, that. And I really loved how Sheinmel didn't go down the route of um, oh, she's abused by her family/friend/whatever and that's why she's like this or she's going through grief or something like that which a lot of people put the blame on but  instead let Sethie have these kind of feelings without needing a reason. Because often, it's not like that. I'm not going to lie, I've thought about what it'd be like to be really thin and felt I needed to have a desirable body, but not because of how other people look at me or my personal life etc but just because. Why does there always need to be a reason?

The third person view was really interesting. I think it made me more aware of what was going on. Usually in books with issues (anorexia or whatever), the story is told in first person so you can really 'get to know' the protagonist and understand what they're feeling, but I thought that it worked in third person as well. It was certainly different, and I think that was one of the main reasons I liked this. However, I did think it got a bit "Sethie this, Sethie that" towards the end.

The very end felt a bit rushed and didn't really satisfy me. I would've liked for Sethie's mother to show her concern a bit earlier on in the story and because it was during the end we saw her really talk to Sethie, it felt like a 'happily ever after' when we know it's not going to be like that straight-away. There was parts of the book where I thought there was like, an explosion of information and emotions and the flow of the story got all messed up and stuff, other times the story just generally felt disjointed. Also, it confused me how Sethie was regularly using drugs but...still maintained a perfect grade average in school? I don't think that was thought-out enough.

THE STONE GIRL is uncomfortable, raw and disturbing. I know this sounds like a really ranty kind of review, but I didn't mean for it to be. This is a really powerful novel that I think will be understood by a certain type of person, and I don't know if that will be you, but try it and see.

"Maybe it's a few years from now, and things have changed, and they're in school together, and they've gotten back together, and he's grown up into the type of bow who loves a girl like Sethie, the type who tells her I love you all the time, just lying in bed watching TV, or studying side by side, or walking down the street."



  1. Hmm, this sounds like a difficult one... And I really don't like the name Sethie for some reason.

  2. Wow, awesome review! Interesting view on the way Sethie didn't need a huge reason to want to be skinny, I agree with you - very realistic!


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